Peru triples official death toll, now worst in the world per capita

Peru almost tripled its official COVID-19 death toll to 180,764 on Monday, following a government review, making it the country with the worst per capita death rate, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Peru was among the hardest hit countries in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic as its hospitals were overcrowded with patients and the demand for oxygen exceeded availability. Experts had long warned that the actual death toll was underestimated in official statistics.

The government said it will now update its death toll, which stood at 69,342 on Sunday, in part due to a lack of tests making it difficult to confirm whether a person died from the virus or some other cause.

According to Johns Hopkins Data, Hungary had the worst number of Covid-19 deaths per capita at around 300 per 100,000 population. With its updated death toll, Peru now ranks more than 500 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people.


A health care worker checks Maria Tafur before administering her Covid-19 vaccine on April 28, 2021 in Lima, Peru. Ernesto Benavides / AFP – Getty Images

“We consider it our duty to publish this updated information,” said Peruvian Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez during a press conference announcing the result of the review.

In Latin America, Brazil has the highest total death toll from the pandemic, with more than 450,000 fatalities. However, based on population, the per capita death toll in Peru is now more than double that of Brazil, according to the data.

Peru’s updated numbers coincide with what is known as the excess death numbers that researchers in Peru and other countries have used to measure a possible undercount during the pandemic.

Excessive deaths measures the total number of deaths over a period of time and compares it to the same period before the pandemic.

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